Kendall Stephens is a 6'-5" sharp-shooting two-guard from St. Charles East High School in Illinois. The youngster has seen his recruiting stock skyrocket over the past several weeks with his outstanding play. The Illini are not going to be left behind on this one. They offered Stephens a scholarship Wednesday afternoon.
Stephens breaks down how it all happened.
"(Coach Weber) came to my practice today and then gave my dad a call. He talked to my dad about offering me a scholarship."
Weber got one last look to make sure and is now certain he wants the rising sophomore as a part of his 2013 recruiting class. Stephens said Weber told his dad he really wants him in Orange and Blue.
"He talked to him about my upside. He said he wanted me at Illlinois."
What was his reaction to his new offer from the home state power?
"I was really happy. It was huge. Coach Weber does a great job. Obviously the program is a winning program. I was very happy to have such a winning program offer."
He also says the coaching staff is trying to get him to come down for a visit soon. He will not be able to make the Ohio State game on Saturday, but he will see the Illini take on another Big Ten rival in February.
"They are trying to get me to come to a game on February 13th (Purdue). It is something I am looking forward to."
What does Stephens like most about Illinois?
"Recruits. They get a lot of good guys to come in. I am a big Bruce Weber fan. He was an assistant coach when my dad played (at Purdue). We have a good connection, and he is a good coach."
When looking at various types of systems he could possibly play in during his college career, the sophomore would prefer to play in a motion offense.
"As far as a system, I want a guard-oriented motion like Illinois. That would probably be best."
Stephens says he could see himself fitting into the Illinois program. He likes how they use multiple guards.
"They have a lot of good guards. Coach Weber knows how to use them. I definitely think I could fit in."
The sharpshooter has also received offers from Wisconsin, Northwestern, and DePaul. Other schools showing interest are the majority of the Big 10, Stanford, Xavier, and Duke according to Illinois Wolves Coach Mike Mullins.
Stephens does not have a timetable for a decision and says it is still very early in the process. Who will be some of the people helping the guard make his eventual decision?
"My family as far as my Mom and Dad. My uncle will definitely have a say as well as my coach."
Mullins says Stephens's camp is still familiarizing itself with the process before making any major decisions.
"It is just beginning for him. They are going through the process and getting a feel for it before they formulate what their plan is going to be."
So what type of player is he?
"Kendall is a versatile and multi-skilled offensive player," Mullins says. "He is an exceptional shooter and has good ball-handling skills. He sees the floor well. He is a highly skilled player for this young of an age.
"He has a 6'-9" wing span, which affects teams defensively with his length and anticipation in passing lanes. He is able to rebound well for a guard because of his size."
His AAU coach raved about his ability to shoot the perimeter shot.
"He has a tremendous release and is going to end up being one of the best shooters in the country."
Mullins added that he has already seen Stephens produce against top teams and various defenses.
"He has had multiple 20 point plus games against good competition. He is a marked man on his high school team as he is their leading scorer and go-to guy. They have played a very good schedule both in their Thanksgiving and Christmas tournaments. He has gotten to see a lot of gimmick defenses already."
Mullins says even when he does not shoot the ball a ton, the ones he takes matter.
"He is very unselfish. They had a win Friday night, and he only took five shots including the game winner. He wound up with 13 points on 3 of 5 from the floor."
The place where Stephens blew up was the Jack Tosh Christmas Tournament. St. Charles East played against some good teams and players including a future Illini center.
"The competition was amazing. We got to play against Nnanna Egwu who is going to Illinois. There was great competition. We got a win against the number one seed Maine South. I was very pleased with how we did."
The super sophomore has been happy with his play so far this year.
"I think I have improved my game from last year. I am not really worried about how many points I am averaging or assists or rebounds. I am trying to make sure I am improving each year. We have something to build on each year, and so far I think I have been doing that. I think I have been playing really well, and I'm satisfied."
Trustworthy people who have seen him play believe that he could crash the party of the "Big 3" in 2013, Jabari Parker, Tommy Hamilton and Alex Foster, and make it a quartet. Illinois has now made it abundantly clear it believes he is of that caliber.